What really is there to say about The Sorcerer’s Apprentice? Though it wasn’t universally panned it came very close and was it not for the overseas box office the film would’ve lost out on quite a large portion of its budget. Thankfully Disney was able to recoup any losses (at least in terms of production, who knows what the marketing campaign cost) and the rest of us can continue to be blissfully unaware of the films strange ability to both be eye-rollingly dull and entertaining at the same time. It’s definitely not the worst film I’ve ever seen (not by a long shot), but man did it all just seem so…superfluous.
A fun, modern-day adventure follows Dave (JAY BARUCHEL), just an average college student, or so it appears, until the sorcerer Balthazar Blake (NICOLAS CAGE) recruits him as his reluctant protégé and gives him a crash course in the art and science of magic. As he prepares for a battle against the forces of darkness in modern-day Manhattan, Dave finds it is going to take all of the courage he can muster to survive his training, save the city and get the girl as he becomes THE SORCERER’S APPRENTICE.
I would consider myself a fan of fantasy style movies and I’m guilty of being a pretty big Harry Potter fan, which is, let’s face it, is kind of the source of all of these teenager-turned-magician/superhero style films as of late. While the film is apparently very loosely based around the Fantasia concept (and there’s a whole broomstick sequence that’s a live-action parallel to it), it really has about as much in common with that as it does Star Wars. Which isn’t to say there aren’t similarities, but not enough to say that one film was a direct reference on it more than another; in the end the film is just a very run-of-the-mill tale with some very nice special effects thrown in.
It’s kind of hard to put down this film solely based on it’s mediocrity as when you split the film into segments it’s not truly all that bad. It’s got very enjoyable and likable characters, a pretty fast pace and rapid character development. At the same time we don’t really dwell as much on certain things as we should, like the relationship between Baruchel’s and Teresa Palmer’s characters. We know he has pined for her for years, but she doesn’t really seem to remember him at first; though it eventually rollercoaster’s on its way into a relationship, by the end of the film it still seems too rushed. You get the sensation that they’ve only just known each other in terms of their collegial lives for a few days, yet we’re led to believe it’s happy ever after. Not that I’m knocking the films happy message, but it was just a really hokey way to execute the whole thing.
Then there’s the story itself which really just boils down to “Morgana is bad, don’t let Morgana out!” In turn this is exactly what happens, although the final showdown between her and Baruchel’s character is appropriately exciting to watch simply for the special effects. Even as much as I felt I was wasting my time watching the film I still wish it had stretched out a bit longer. It all felt rushed, like they were just trying to get it over with. Normally this is a great thing to notice in films that are particularly boring, but in the case of this film…it just kind of feels like a shame. It really does seem like it could have been a film with a lot more substance, but like the National Treasure series it seemed content being a really sweet candy bar with no real substance in the middle. In one respect it was definitely entertaining, but in another it seemed like a real waste of time as it had no ultimate pay off.
Although it seemed like it was a franchise starter type of film, I don’t foresee this film getting a sequel anytime soon (although the extra scene post-credits seems to imply otherwise). I wouldn’t necessarily be opposed about seeing a sequel, but I’m not exactly thrilled at the idea either unless they expand upon the concepts or characters that we barely got to know in this one. Worth a Rental as its mindless entertainment with some sweet CGI, but it’s probably not something you’ll visit again.
Disney unleashes The Sorcerer’s Apprentice on Blu-ray in the greatest combo-pack of all: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy. All three in one box is a definite treat, plus you have a nice reflective foil/embossed slipcover on the outside to help pop off the shelves. Regardless if you have a Blu-ray player right now, definitely pick up this release over the others—it doesn’t even matter at this point since it comes with a normal DVD copy as well, so once you do upgrade you’ll be able to watch the bigger and better edition…if you want to do that for any reason. Inside the set is the usual assortment of inserts and whatnot, but nothing overly exciting unless you really like looking at advertisements. Although there is also a Digital Copy-less version as well, which is what I was sent (no big whoop).
We’ll start off with the films spectacular looking AVC encoded 1080p picture. There is a lot of colorful moments in this film and they all look exceptional; night time sequences are inky black and a very pristine picture. I loved all the rain slicked streets (although that proved an issue during production as there were a few accidents involving the car chase scene). It’s a damn near flawless looking presentation and everything from sweat to clothing detail is rendered faithfully. All of the magic bits and the visual effects that accompany them are absolutely brilliant looking and are really the highlight of the film to be honest, although the rest of the transfer is at the very least a lively looking presentation and one that will not leave you disappointed. That finale with the coils and Burchel’s character basically firing machine gun bursts of plasma balls…it was quite the nice sight to see.
Audio is a DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix and just as you’d hope from a film that centers on a magician throwing plasma balsa and condensing infernos that there is an aural cornucopia of noise that resonates from the speakers for about 60% of the movies run time. There are the occasional quiet sequences, but unless they’re in a completely isolated radio station area then there’s plenty of chatter in the surrounds as well (and even then during the radio station there was plenty of environmental chatter in the surrounds). LFE output is absolutely deafening at times as everything from punches to kicks to bursts of magic add plenty of oomph to the film.
Magic In The City
The Science Of Sorcery
Making Magic Real
The Fashionable Drake Stone
The Grimhold: An Evil Work Of Art
Wolves & Puppies
The World’s Coolest Car
5 Deleted Scenes
It’s a fairly lengthy mixture of featurettes and extras and one that won’t be terribly disappointing if you enjoy the film. Admittedly they’re fairly brief, ranging from 10 to 13 minutes in length, but all total there’s under an hours worth of goodies to check out. Not too bad for a disappointing box office film like this, I’d say. A commentary would’ve been a boon, but I can see why it wasn’t included.
Overall this set is still only worth a Rental, but it’s a really nice A/V presentation overall.
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice arrives on Blu-ray and DVD on November 30th.